Tutorial: Google Sketch Up: Free and beginner freindly CAD program

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    Smile Google Sketch Up: Free and beginner freindly CAD program

    Estimated Time
    -A couple of minutes to download
    -A couple of short tutorial videos and tutorials for a beginner to learn how to use it
    Tools Required
    -A computer running Windows XP or Vista as the operating system or Mac OS X. Check system requirements before downloading to make sure your computer can run it.
    -internet connection
    -3 button scroll wheel mouse
    -CAD, which stands for computer aided design, is a very useful tool for designing robots. A CAD program allows you to create 3D scale models of all the parts that you want to put in your robot, and to design the robot frame. Because the drawings are scale, it is possible to get accurate dimensions on any part at any time, which is useful when it comes time to build your robot. Also, with the 3D models, it is easy to see if everything fits into your robots frame.

    -The biggest advantage of sketch up is that it is free, which is especially nice because many other CAD programs cost well over one hundred dollars. That sucks when you're already broke from buying a bunch of robot parts. Obviously, sketch up is not as full featured as some of the other CAD programs, but it is easier to learn for a beginner.

    -Below is an antweight combat robot I designed in sketch up. The frame is angle aluminum and I have all the components like batteries, motors and speed controls inside. Because of this drawing, I know that all the components will fit in my robot. This is just an example of what can be done quickly and easily on sketch up after you get the hang of it.

    -So, if you are still interested in getting started with sketch up, follow the super easy steps below to install it.

    1. Google Google Sketch Up
    2. Click the downloads link
    3. Click on the link to the right to see the system requirements and make sure your computer can run it. It should be able to, because I have a fairly old computer and it runs fine. Click the download link to download it.
    4. Install sketch up on your computer

    -After it is installed, I would recommend doing some of the video tutorials or self paced tutorials if you have never used a CAD before. The tutorials are found under the help drop down menu. I definitely can't explain how to use ketch up better than these tutorials, so I won't. However, I will give a couple of tips for assembling robots on sketch up later on. For now, to reassure you that it is easy to use, making a 3D object in sketchup only requires you to draw a 2D face of the object and then drag it up with the push/pull tool to extrude it into a 3D object. An example of making a chunk of angle aluminum is below.

    -Wow, it turned 3D that easily

    -If you have used CAD before, this should be a piece of cake to use, but you might want to do a couple of the tutorials anyway just to see where all the tools are and exactly what they do.

    -A few tips for using sketch up

    • Make sure to set the units to the units you want before you start drawing. To do this click on window, next click on model info, finally click units and choose the units (inches, ft, mm, and cm are your only options) and the precision, which is how many decimal places it carries out everything before it rounds the numbers off.

    • Make everything part you draw a component. This makes it easier to to move them around and virtually assemble your robot.

    • After you get components where you want them, lock them so that you don't accidentally move them while trying to add other components to them. You can always unlock them later if they need to be moved.

    -I hope this helped you discover a useful robot designing tool. Have fun and build some badass robots.

    -If I had any errors or if I didn't clarify something enough, or if you have any questions, just ask and I'll try to help.

    Attached Files
    • Majestic-moose-CAD
    • Angle-aluminum-example
    • 3d-angle-aluminum
    • DSCN2534

Replies to Tutorial: Google Sketch Up: Free and beginner freindly CAD program
  1. Re: Google Sketch Up: Free and beginner freindly CAD program

    Nice guide, I've used sketchup before and it is certainly a good free substitute for programs like Solidworks or Autodesk.

    I just wanted to know - do you intend to build the robot you've designed above? I built a very similar robot last year, and I thought you could learn from some of my mistakes:

    First of all, your center of mass is nowhere near your drive wheels. This will mean you have almost no traction since your caster (or passive wheel) will be producing a lot of friction, and your back wheels will not grip. If possible, move them forwards or at least make sure there is something heavy (like batteries) to move the center of your robot's mass over the wheels.

    The other thing (which you probably already know) is that the saw you've drawn has teeth designed to cut wood. Metal saws have much finer teeth which grind the surface away instead of ripping chunks out. I would actually suggest not using a saw at all though, but using a flywheel with two large teeth (like hypnodisk from robot wars) - this will store energy and fling them away instead of trying to cut notches into them.

    I apologize if I sound like I'm being critical, but I just thought you might benefit from the mistakes I've made in the past.
    http://www.buildtherobot.blogspot.com - for robot builders and enthusiasts

  2. Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Southampton, UK

    Re: Google Sketch Up: Free and beginner freindly CAD program

    Id just like to add a couple of useful things I have found for sketch-up.

    1 - Triple click, use this to quickly select a whole object

    2 - double middle click, use this to center the camera on an object.

    3 - if laser cutting use the following plugins
    - output to SVG http://code.google.com/p/sketchup-svg-outline-plugin/
    - slice you moddels into layers ready for laser cutting http://www.sketchucation.com/extensions-index/?row=533
    - make spur gears easliy http://www.ohyeahcad.com/download/

    4 - use the outline tool to manage your model, select stuff hide stuff etc

  3. FunnyRobot Guest

    Re: Google Sketch Up: Free and beginner freindly CAD program

    Finally! A free CAD program!!!!!

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